LAKE FOREST – After a day off Sunday, the Bears returned to training camp Monday with another ramp-up practice before the pads come on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Bears focused on situational team drills, and the offense's effort was sloppy at best.
There was no doubt the defense won the day Monday.
The Bears' pass rush got after quarterback Justin Fields for most of the 90-minute practice.
With rushers not allowed to touch the quarterback, it's hard to gauge sacks. But this reporter's unofficial count was six, with Al-Quadin Muhammad (threeish), Dominique Robinson, Trevis Gipson, and Khyiris Tonga notching training camp sacks.
As for the secondary, Jaylon Johnson made an excellent play on a ball ticketed for Darnell Mooney. The star cornerback deflected the pass up in the air and linebacker Joe Thomas came away with an interception. Safety Eddie Jackson also made a good break on a pass for Equanimeous St. Brown. Jackson came down hard from the middle of the field and across the face of St. Brown. The ball caromed off the receiver's hands but fluttered into the arms of Dazz Newsome for a solid gain.
The Bears finished the practice with a two-minute drill in which the offense was down four and needed a touchdown.
Crisp would not be a word used to describe the offensive execution.
Fields opened the drill with a completion to Byron Pringle down the right side. Jackson closed hard on the play and, had pads been on, would have put Pringle into the turf. Hard.
"He said it was going to be a pick, then some people on the defense were talking about how I would have been in the hospital," Pringle said after practice of the play. "But I seen him. I'm not going to blink my eyes. I'm going to keep smiling. He had to lay me out because I ain't going to get out."
A false start by the offensive line followed the completion to Pringle. Then, Velus Jones Jr. committed a false start.
After being backed up, Fields was pressured by Muhammad but dumped it off to running back David Montgomery for a short gain. We'll call that a training camp sack. On the next play, Fields hit Montgomery on an angle route out of the backfield to get the offense down around the 30-yard line.
Another pre-snap penalty (illegal snap?) had coaches blow the whistle. On the ensuing play, Fields was pressured from both sides but was allowed to get the ball off to Montgomery on a screen pass for a short gain. We'll give Gipson a training camp sack each on that play, but Muhammad also has claim to it.
Eberflus called a timeout after the screen, leaving the Bears about 19 seconds to find a way to the end zone. Fields hit tight end Cole Kmet down to the 17-yard line and spiked the ball with five seconds left.
The Bears brought in the goal-line, jump-ball package, including N'Keal Harry and St. Brown. Muhammad flushed Fields to his left on the final play and the quarterback's final heave toward Pringle was broken up by Jaquan Brisker to end the period.
Crisp execution continues to be a point of emphasis for the Bears' offense.
"We talked to the offense just about getting lined up and being crisp with our alignments and our motions and having the tempo to put the pressure on the defense," Eberflus said Monday. "When you line up in a quick manner and motion with a crisp manner and then snap the ball, you're not giving them time to line up and adjust and make their calls on defense.
"So, I think they're doing a good job with that and it's a work in progress, but it's something we're trying to focus on here — this stack of practices, today and these next two practices."
It's early, but the pre-snap penalties and alignment issues are concerning, as is the amount of pressure Fields faces on a snap-by-snap basis.
Here are more notes from Day 5 of Bears training camp:
-- The Bears will put the pads on Tuesday and Wednesday, which will help the staff evaluate players differently.
"It's called functional intelligence," Eberflus said of evaluating players in film room and pads. "Can you have the intelligence in the classroom? That's great. Can you draw it up on paper? That's really good. Can you function in the walk-through? That's good. Slower pace. But then when everything moves, can you have that functional intelligence to play the game? That's a very important piece to this. Some guys will excel in that. Some guys are quick-minded, and they want to have more, and they love that part of it, and that's what we're looking for."
-- A lot has been made about the Bears' wide receiver room being filled with hungry guys fighting for NFL survival. But Pringle looks at it a different way when it comes to himself, St. Brown, and Harry, all guys looking to prove they can make the most of a bigger role.
"Me, personally, I'll never be in a competition with nobody," Pringle said. "But we've helped each other, yes. That's what teammates do, and we want to be great. But as far as looking at each other, like being in a competition, no. Because EQ's been in this offense, he helps us. He lets us know what things we could've did better here and there, and vice versa. From me and N'Keal are giving him advice as well."
-- Teven Jenkins and Thomas Graham Jr. were once again absent at practice. Eberflus said Jenkins remains in the day-to-day stage while Graham's soft-tissue hamstring injury could take a while longer to heal.
-- Riley Reiff and Braxton Jones alternated reps at first-team left tackle, while Michael Schofield and Ja'Tyre Carter split reps at right guard.
-- Ryan Griffin sees a star ready to blossom in Cole Kmet.
"He's got all the tools in the bag. I'm excited to see what he can do too. The sky is the limit for him," Griffin said. "He's got all the tools. Lot of guys have tools in this league. It's the want to, to get better, to learn, to take in knowledge and then put it out on the field. He's shown he can do that. He will do that. That's what makes me believe he's going to be a great tight end in this league."
-- Al-Quadin Muhammad feels good after having an offseason procedure. He showcased his burst off the edge Monday. He knows Eberflus brought him in for one reason.
"Get to the quarterback and hit the quarterback as many times as I can," Muhammad said Monday of his goal for this season. "That's pretty much it. I don't really have a particular number, just do it as many times as I can do it."